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Large families...words of encouragement please.

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Things overall are going well. I love homeschooling and the kids love it...no one wants to change that...but...I feel like I am drowning sometimes. I don't even know how to articulate what I'm feeling, but I know you all have probably felt it before.


The youngest, dd4, is not getting all the academic attention she needs from me. When I do have time to spend with her I'm often burned out and just want to snuggle, tickle, or play. I know she is young, but I also know how quickly the time can slip away too. Right now I try to do PreK stuff with her at least 3 mornings a week and the other dc are "supposed" to take turns with her and do PreK things too, but often they end up just letting her play or get on the iPad because she is uncooperative. It makes me sad that some days I might go hours without even seeing her.


Ds6 is doing well with everything except he is still not reading fluently. We are finally moving on from cvc words and while I'm say I'm fine with him not reading fluently until the end of 2nd (next year) occasionally that feeling that I'm failing him rears it's ugly head and I get in a panic. I'd love to devote more time to just reading but it seems that there are less and less hours in the day the older my dc get. I "could" read in the evening, but honestly neither of us is in the mood. He wants to get in as much play time as he can before bed and I'm either prepping for the next day, trying to educate myself so I can be a better teacher, or staring off into space because I'm wiped out.


Dd10 is doing amazingly well in everything. I'm terrified of letting up on anything with her for fear that we will loose ground and that I will end up with the types of gaps I have with the older two. She definitely gets the bulk of my time...which is not fair, but will hopefully improve as she moves toward more independence.


Dd14...gosh, where to start. She's made huge improvements in attitude and behavior. We actually lost a whole year the first year she went through 6th grade to behavior issues and also trying to figure out some LDs. She repeated 6th with some academic improvement but still had lots of behavior issues. This year we seem to have overcome the behavior and finally have a good attitude towards learning, and she is moving forward in her core subjects, but her content subjects have suffered. She's done those in an interest led manner. Unfortunately her interest is lacking in those areas. (She has been fixated on world mythology and Asian culture for the last two years and hasn't branched out to anything else) :p My biggest struggle with her is that she has not reached that "logic stage" mindset. Analytical questions blow right over the top of her head. Inferences, reading between the lines, and noticing implied messages are enigmas to her. This makes logic stage material difficult, but elementary material is too easy. I find it hard to stretch her and advance her understanding of things... if it's too hard to understand she shuts down, if it's too easy she turns off. Presenting material to her in a way that best engages her is sooooo incredibly time consuming. She can't just read a book and store that information. She has to read it, then see it, then watch it presented differently, then engage in it, then read something different about the same things, then taste, touch, smell, hear, and see it again! (Slight exaggeration, but this is how it feels to me sometimes.)


Dd15 is in 9th this year. She's not doing poorly but she could be doing so much more if I spent more time with her. By the time I help her with algebra and science I'm out of time and can't help her with writing or literature. So, we do two one day and two the next...it feels disjointed and often causes delays in doing these subjects daily (which needs to happen to stay on schedule to complete them by a certain time...like at least the day before the next grade level starts.) I feel she is educating herself sometimes and I so, so want to be more engaged in discussions, and debates, and exploring things with her.



So, those are the main issues with each dc. As you can see the biggest factor in all of them is time. I know there are areas that I could improve...for example instead of everyone working independently right now I could be working one on one with one of them (which I normally would be but wanted to get this typed out). I could also get up earlier (YUCK) but that is so not in my nature and makes me cranky. Maybe it's just that it's close to the end of our year and I'm feeling burned out. Or maybe it's because I have next year planned out and it is going to be A LOT. I'm excited but nervous about that.


I don't know that I even have a question. I guess I'm just venting - wondering how others with big families are doing and if you all have the same issues and concerns. How do you keep the panic at bay? How do you balance everyone? How do you juggle everyone's issues? Sometimes I feel I need a spreadsheet to keep track of each dc's problem spots and a schedule for dealing with them...(Oh, sorry, I can't help you with that thesis until Wednesday at 2 unless you want to swap time slots with your sister's cubic feet issue.) Once you deal with all the basics and issues with the basics how do you find time for the fun, joyful, exploratory learning?

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I don't know if I qualify as having a "large" family, but with 3 it seems large to me! I try to always start with the youngest and work my way up. My 9 year old is able to do some of his subjects by himself (ie math & literature). So, I'll do an activity with my 3 year old while he works on math & the 5 year old plays. Then, my oldest will switch to literature and I'll work on math with my 5 year old while the 3 year old plays. When that's done, I'll get my oldest started on grammar or history while I work on reading with the 5 year old and the 3 year old still plays. Eventually the 5 year old runs out of subjects (for K) and the 9 year old can get my undivided attention for his harder subjects (latin, science, etc). I've also signed up for Reading Eggs and The Simple Homeschool so if a subject takes longer they have something to work on independently while I finish up without them losing focus.

Next year I'll start the youngest on Timberdoodle (which is play based). My plan is to start the day with some kind of circle time where I do a read-aloud...or let the older ones take turns doing a read-aloud to practice their fluency.

Maybe too you could try dividing the day by age? The younger 2 could have the first 2 hours while the older 3 get their strongest subjects done? Then work in the afternoon with the older ones?

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I'm not sure that I have that large family but I have been overwhelmed this year. With that family set up I would forget academics for the 4 year. Read to her but then play and snuggle. Look for natural opportunities to do math. Count things. Do addition. My children all learned the idea of division as preschoolers. We have x cookies how many do we each get. Share this so you each get a fair amount. If you are open to it leap frog has some nice videos and you can use star fall or reading eggs. My 14 year old is highly independent . I wish I could help her more but I don't have enough time. We also get outside help. The 12 and 14 year old take a writing class. We homeschool through a charter so I can get more help. A tutor or outside classes would save you time for what matters. I have fewer kids are we are really struggling so I hear you. Next year for high school we are farming out classes. My daughter will take foreign language at the community college. She will be doing her biology labs in a class setting. We will be meeting with a teacher at least ever other week so that we stay on track. Please ignore if my suggestions are not helpful.

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:grouphug: Homeschooling bunches of kids is hard. :grouphug:


I don't know if this is any help, but this is what I'm doing:


School runs from 9-3.

9:00-9:45 - 10yo plays with tots outside, I work with 9th grade son

9:45-10:30 - Tots & I spend time together, other children work independently

10:30-11:15 - 16yo takes tots outside, I work with 7th grade dd * 10 yo ds likes to get up early in the morning with me and get his schoolwork finished. If we didn't sit down together in the wee hours, we sit down after dd and I finish

11:15-12:30 - quick tidy, lunch, read aloud, artwork

12:30-1:30 - Quiet time, the older children work on schoolwork

1:30-2:15 - Dd 13 works with tots, I sit down with 10th grader although he now works independently. It's his slot if he has any questions or issues with math

2:15-3:00 - Ds 15 takes tots, I grade or chill.

The older children finish up schoolwork or relax.


Sat. morning - history & literature discussions while younger 3 watch TV


Another comment: I have a spreadsheet planner with 5 columns and 7 rows. The top row is for group studies, then each child (even the tots!) has their own row. Columns are labelled M-F. I plan anything I need to cover with the children otherwise I'll forget... and you know the kids won't remind me! :lol:


At the beginning of the year, I did attempt to have a subject assigned for each day. Once we moved out of review material into harder material it became obvious the children needed more one-on-one time, so I adjusted.

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I think that life in a large family is a constant balancing act and that's just the way it is. Somethings are going to fall by the wayside at certain times while others take priority.


You mentioned your 4 yo and I'm in the same situation with a 3 yo. (Actually, I've been in the same situation with several preschoolers over the years). What I've found most effective is just to have a lot of books laying around and a few activity books (I usually buy the R&S preschool set). I try to grab moments between things for my littles - just to read a book - pull out a page. Other than that, she actually sits with us a lot at the dining room table and draws with pencils, colors in her books, plays with the math manipulatives. I'm always amazed by the fact that she has picked up counting and colors without much of my input at all. Also, I've noticed that my 7 yo is really very patient with her and loves to read her little books with her or go over the alphabet. Maybe you could give your 6yod some of these types of activities (which would help him, too).


When teaching my littles to read, I try to remind myself to just keep at it - a little at a time. It's so frustrating when you want to jump ahead quickly and just be done but I've found that we do best just in short 10 - 15 minutes spurts and that sometimes they make great leaps even while we are just plugging along.


With my olders, I really work toward independence. I know it's not the ideal WTM education but it's what I can do. With my high schooler, I usually don't sit down with him unless he's really having major trouble in a subject. For discussions in lit and history I've found that with him (my very non-academic boy) I accomplish more without formal discussion times. As we move through the day, I'll just casually ask what his reading in history was about - sometimes at supper I bring it up. My husband also will ask him and that get's a discussion going. If I try to sit down and formally discuss anything with him, he shuts right down. I have two kids that started college this year and I've been amazed that despite having a limited amount of academic supervision from me through their high school years, they are doing well. We did the same casual discussion approach with them, and my oldest is actually an English major now! Surprise - MFW high school (mostly) and a lot of reading has led him in this direction.


You mentioned your 14 yo not really seeming to be in the logic stage and it made me smile. I'm not sure my 16yods has ever actually hit that stage :)

We've just kept plugging along over the years and he's finally starting to catch-up. On the other hand, it just hit me the other day that I think my 9 yods is in the logic stage all of a sudden however, my 11 yods isn't anywhere near it. It's crazy - just have to try to meet each one where they are, I guess.


I've taken to calling my schedule the rotate-rotate-rotate and repeat schedule. I just keep at it all day, meeting in shorter snippets of time to keep everyone going.


I'm in the process right now of making sure that the materials I'm using are the most effective use of my time. Some subjects in our family are just get-er-done. My 16 yods is doing Rosetta Stone French - sure, lots of families don't think it's enough but that's what he's doing and it's meeting the requirements. He's not a language guy, he's finished three levels and he's done. I'm not going to stress out that he's not proficient. On the other hand, I am determined that he will be able to write a decent essay by the time he graduates so I've been spending more time with him on that this year than anything else and it's working.


By the way, I love your signature line quote :)

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I have been surprised so many times that I should not be surprised anymore--about these dc kids of mine. I thought dd9 was behind, took her to a friend for a little informal eval, and she is reading just fine. I thought ds6 was really struggling to remember letters, I was despairing--and then he woke up one week this winter and his brain had become an instant reading machine. None of the other kids have done THAT. DS8 plods along in reading at an extremely unhurried pace, but does things in math that seem very advanced to me. I thought ds14 was doing horribly at writing, but he got involved in an outside group and the coach often compliments his writing. DD12 struggled with multiplication, but now she loves math and has zoomed through several math books on pre-algebra this year.


When I despair, I find that frames of reference are helpful:

getting real-time input from other teachers about my children

reviewing the past by looking at past samples of work or writing down what they were doing a few months ago

taking a break from school altogether


Also, for one child, my dh had to take over. I am grateful for scripted curriculum.


But yes, hsing a large family is not for the faint of heart. Courage, courage.


Indeed, if you are responsible for house care, laundry, cooking healthy meals from scratch, taking care of family bills, maintaing societal correspondence, taking care of extended family, serving a religious community, parenting children in the basics of character, hygiene, and kindness AND being totally responsible for the education of your children, then you need courage.

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I try to always start with the youngest and work my way up.


Maybe too you could try dividing the day by age? The younger 2 could have the first 2 hours while the older 3 get their strongest subjects done? Then work in the afternoon with the older ones?



This is pretty much how I have it scheduled now. I start with the little one and move up the line while I try to keep the others working on independent stuff.


It works for the most part but, for example, when I'm working one on one with dd4 or ds6 one of the other 3 will end up having a quick questions or need something explained so they can move ahead...then I've lost the attention of the younger ones. If I make the older ones wait to ask questions then they have to stop and work on something different, which causes them to loose focus. When no one has any questions then, yes, this plan of working through the day by ages works well.


With that family set up I would forget academics for the 4 year. Read to her but then play and snuggle. Look for natural opportunities to do math. Count things. Do addition. My children all learned the idea of division as preschoolers. We have x cookies how many do we each get. Share this so you each get a fair amount. If you are open to it leap frog has some nice videos and you can use star fall or reading eggs.


I had been doing what you explain above with her, but she started asking for "school" and I thought I'd take advantage of her enthusiasm and start working with a little more formal work. Maybe I should give her the work she's enthusiastic about (the workbook stuff) when the older two work with her and save the fun cuddly stuff for me.


A tutor or outside classes would save you time for what matters.


I agree...wish I could afford a few more. My two oldest will have science at a tutorial next year so that will definitely save time as far as not having to do labs with them. I'll still have to help them with with homework but won't be responsible for "teaching". I'm looking forward to that. Oldest will also have a tutor for Alg II. I'd love to find a tutor for Japanese too...I'll look into that more.


:grouphug: Homeschooling bunches of kids is hard. :grouphug:


Thank you!


Sat. morning - history & literature discussions while younger 3 watch TV

I had considered doing something like this...or having just the older two get up earlier at least a couple days a week. I think I could do a once a week, 1 hour literature discussion, and a once a week, 1 hour history discussion for each of the older dc. So, if I get up one hour early on T, W, Th, and F I could take care of 2 subjects for the week for 2 kids. Ick, I do not like mornings, but it's either that or work past 4 everyday, which I hate doing because my brain starts leaking out of my ears much past 3. :p I don't think Saturday mornings would work for us but I can run it by the girls and see which they would prefer.



Thanks guys!

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I only have 2 dc so I don't have any advice for you on how to balance it all. However, I would advise you to read back over your description of each of your children--you go into detail about each of their learning styles, strengths and weaknesses, etc. What teacher in a ps would know all that you know about your children? What classroom environment could be as rich and individualized as you describe? It's not perfect, but believe me, even with only two dc, it is far from perfect. Pat yourself on the back, you are doing a fantastic job and so are your kids! :hurray:

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I think that life in a large family is a constant balancing act and that's just the way it is. Somethings are going to fall by the wayside at certain times while others take priority.




Balancing is hard for me...well, balancing isn't hard but the amount I try to balance usually ends up being too heavy. Letting things fall by the wayside makes me nervous...although I do end up having to do it. I have to get better about remembering to pick them back up at some time though!


I also know what you're saying about letting some subjects be just good enough. We had to do that this year with one of my oldest's subjects...I just could not get to helping her with this subject and she was not interested in it at all. She did the work to gain the credit, but didn't learn it to the depth I wished she'd learned it.


Thanks for the encouragement. :)

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I have 5 in a very wide age range 16, 13, 10, 3, 2. I have been solo parenting for a year (my husband lives in another state).


I find stretching our day out easier. I felt like I was neglecting my younger ones. It made me sad. Then I would try to rush them threw so we could play. I would burn out around 6. Then I was a mess for three hours till we passed out.


So, we stretch the day out. I do reading lessons at bedtime. Some kids so math super early and one often does his at 11pm. If I do some work with one kid, I follow it up with play with little ones.


My day is very long. But, we get more breaks for play and water and snacks.

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Pat yourself on the back, you are doing a fantastic job and so are your kids! :hurray:



Ah, thank you!



I do work really hard to make sure they are all getting what they need depending on styles, abilities, and their interests. There is no doubt that they are getting more than they would get at ps...I know because two of them used to be there. I do feel overwhelmed though...the education of 5 little people is my responsibility! I feel like what I provide for them has to be superior in every way to what they would get in ps otherwise I'm doing them a disservice. As I mentioned up thread I do have to let some things fall aside (I've had to do this a lot with dd14 and now I feel like I have to work doubly hard to make up for it) and some things end up being done just to check a box...that makes me really nervous and even though I know it's necessary makes me feel like I'm not doing my job.

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I have less children at home now than ever before, but 2 of the 4 left seem to need ALL my attention, so it feels like I need to do more.

We start with a video usually something they only sort of have to watch. (The hour long National Geographic shows are good in the morning.) Then I do our together stuff: Bible, poetry, and a read-aloud (which varies daily). Next is math/math corrections with either my youngest son or daughter. The other children either do their morning chores, eat breakfast, do their reading, etc. Then I switch children. After lunch I do grammar (2 or 3 times a week) with everyone, then I work on Geometry and Chemistry with my 16 yo son. History and literature discussions happen once or twice a week. Spanish is hit or miss. I try to go over the writing program with my 16 yo son and 14 yo son just before lunch. My 11 yo son is a still struggling reader, so sometime around lunch he will do AAS and read a chapter aloud to me from one of his books. (Did I mention that dh comes home for lunch every day? And often is running either a few minutes early or late depending on the day?) Oh, and now ds wants to listen to 1984 together - which is good for his comprehension, but not so great on my daily schedule.


By 3:00 pm I am wiped out for the day. Then it's time to start dinner. (Hope I remembered to pull something out of the freezer earlier in the day.)


When ds 16 works in the spring and fall, I end up having to do school with him after 7pm and on Saturdays. UGH.


I could spend ALL day working with either my 16 yo son or my 11 yo son. My 14 yo son and 13 yo daughter just get swept along until they seem to be struggling with something then I have to stop and work with either or them.


I think of it as spinning plates. I just need to keep everything up in the air...and timing is everything.

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I am about to have my sixth boy in 8 years. I also have an 11 year old daughter. Out of necessity (because of my own personal strengths and weaknesses and our conviction that sending them to school is not an option), I have learned to keep it very light during the younger years. As in, mostly unschooling until they get to 1st or 2nd grade. I find that frees up my time and stress tremendously, and any formal schooling before then is pretty pointless *in my personal opinion and experience.* Sure, they can do workbooks and preschool activities, etc, but it's not something I spend a lot of time with them on. Maybe 20 minutes here or there.


It is then, when they are able to be a bit more independent, that I begin more of the classical method. Ultimately though, my main goal is that they be autodidacts and largely self-motivated. I find that by staying on top of them, cajoling, forcing, and requiring them to do a million subjects, that switches the burden over to me and less on them. Which is what we don't want. :) Once they learn to read, they can do just about everything on their own, so that is what we work toward.


That being said, I have the tendency to be *cough* overly controlling *cough* so I am definitely not hands off. But I try to keep the bigger picture in mind, and that helps a lot.

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